'Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of my tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.' Humbert Humbert is a middle-aged, frustrated college professor. In love with his landlady's twelve-year-old daughter Lolita, he'll do anything to possess her. Unable and unwilling to stop himself, he is prepared to commit any crime to get what he wants.
Is he in love or insane? A silver-tongued poet or a pervert? A tortured soul or a monster? Or is he all of these?
Pnin is a professor of Russian at an American college who takes the wrong train to deliver a lecture in a language he cannot master. Pnin is a tireless lover who writes to his treacherous Liza: "A genius needs to keep so much in store, and thus cannot offer you the whole of himself as I do." Pnin is the focal point of subtle academic conspiracies he cannot begin to comprehend, yet he stages a faculty party to end all faculty parties forever.From the Trade Paperback edition.
Vladimir Nabokov's early novel is the dazzling story of the coarse, strange yet oddly endearing chess-playing genius Luzhin. Discovering his prodigious gift in boyhood and rising to the rank of International Grandmaster, Luzhin develops a lyrical passion for chess that renders the real world a phantom. As he confronts the fiery, swift-swooping Italian Grandmaster Turati, he brings into play his carefully devised defence. Making masterly play of metaphor and imagery, The Luzhin Defense is the book that, of his early works, Nabokov felt 'contains and diffuses the greatest warmth'.
The state has been recently taken over and is being run by the tyrannical and philistine 'Average Man' party. Under the slogans of equality and happiness for all, it has done away with individualism and freedom of thought. Only John Krug, a brilliant philosopher, stands up to the regime. His antagonist, the leader of the new party, is his old school enemy, Paduk - known as the 'Toad'. Grieving over his wife's recent death, Krug is at first dismissive of Paduk's activities and sees no threat in them. But the sinister machine which Paduk has set in motion may prove stronger than the individual, stronger even than the grotesque 'Toad' himself.
Albinus - rich, married middle-aged and respectable - is an art critic and aspiring filmmaker who lusts after the coquettish young cinema usherette Margot. Gradually he seduces her and convinces himself he is irresistible to her, but Margot has other plans. She wants to be a film star, and when Albinus introduces her to the American movie producer Axel Rex, she sees her chance - and plotting, duplicity and tragedy ensue.
Linking various minor events, this work switches back-and-forth producing an illusion of impetus.
An autobiographical volume covering Nabokov's first 40 years up to his departure from Europe for America at the outset of World War II, telling of his emergence as a writer, his early loves and his marriage, his passion for butterflies and his lost homeland.
'A work of rapture - jolting, hilarious and incredibly racy' Martin Amis, The TimesSelf-satisfied, delighting in the many fascinating quirks of his own personality, Hermann Hermann is perhaps not to be taken too seriously. But then a chance meeting with Felix, a man he believes to be his double, reveals a frightening 'split' in Hermann's nature. Convinced that he has found his doppelganger, Hermann uses this discovery to weave a money-making plan that leads to disguise, betrayal and eventually murder. Filled with impudent, startling humour, and dominated by the egotistical and scornful figure of a killer who thinks himself an artist, Despair takes us into a deranged world of doubles and illusions, where nothing is quite as it seems.
Spurred on by admiration for his novelist half-brother and irritation at the biography written about him by Mr Goodman (''his slapdash and very misleading book''), the narrator, V, sets out to record Sebastian Knight''s life as he understands it. But buried amid the extensive quoting, digressions, seeming explanations and digs, Sebastian''s erratic and troubled persona remains as elusive as ever. br>br>Nabokov''s first novel written in English, The Real Life of Sebastian Knight is a nuanced, enigmatic potrayal of the conflict between the real and the unreal, and the futile quest for human truth.>
A landmark publication of the literary master's unfinished final work is a fragmented draft as hand-written on 138 index cards that were originally requested for destruction and have been released by his son, in a volume that features removable facsimile reproductions.
GUARDIAN BOOKS OF THE YEAR 2014br>br>No marriage of a major twentieth-century writer lasted longer than Vladimir Nabokov''s. Vera Slonim shared his delight at the enchantment of life''s trifles and literature''s treasures, and he rated her as having the best and quickest sense of humour of any woman he had met. From their meeting in 1921, Vladimir''s letters to his beloved Vera form a narrative arc that tells a forty-six year-long love story, and they are memorable in their entirety. Almost always playful, romantic, and pithy, the letters tell us much about the man and the writer; we see that Vladimir observed everything, from animals, faces, speech, and landscapes with genuine fascination.>
Mary is a gripping tale of youth, first love, and nostalgia--Nabokov's first novel. In a Berlin rooming house filled with an assortment of seriocomic Russian émigrés, Lev Ganin, a vigorous young officer poised between his past and his future, relives his first love affair. His memories of Mary are suffused with the freshness of youth and the idyllic ambience of pre-revolutionary Russia. In stark contrast is the decidedly unappealing boarder living in the room next to Ganin's, who, he discovers, is Mary's husband, temporarily separated from her by the Revolution but expecting her imminent arrival from Russia.From the Trade Paperback edition.
The darkly comic Transparent Things, one of Nabokov''s final books, traces the bleak life of Hugh Person through murder, madness, prison and trips to Switzerland. One of these was the last journey his father ever took; on another, having been sent to ingratiate himself with a distinguished novelist, he met his future wife. Nabokov''s brilliant short novel sinks into the transparent things of the world that surround this one Person, to the silent histories they carry.br>br>Remarkable even in Nabokov''s work for its depth and lyricism, Transparent Things is a small, experimental marvel of memories and dreams, both sentimental and malign.>
The Gift is the phantasmal autobiography of Fyodor Godunov-Cherdynstev, a writer living in the closed world of Russian intellectuals in Berlin shortly after the First World War. This gorgeous tapestry of literature and butterflies tells the story of Fyodor's pursuits as a writer. Its heroine is not Fyodor's elusive and beloved Zina, however, but Russian prose and poetry themselves.
A man at his desk is interrupted by the appearance of a woodland elf in his room; the piano maestro Bachmann ends his career; a barber shaves the face of a man who once tortured him; a shy dreamer makes a deal with the Devil. In these sixty-five stories of magic and melancholy, Nabokov displays an astonishing range of inventiveness, with dazzling sleight of hand, fantastical fairy tales, intellectual games and enchanting glimpses into lives of ambiguity and loss. The collection displays Nabokov's astonishing range of technical and formal inventiveness: the dazzling sleight of hand, fanciful fairy tales, ingenious puzzles, enchanting vignettes and haunting melancholic narratives full of disturbing ambiguities.
For the first time in English, Vladimir Nabokovs earliest major work, written when he was only twenty-four: his only full-length play, introduced by Thomas Karshan and beautifully translated by Karshan and Anastasia Tolstoy.
The Tragedy of Mister Morn was written in the winter of 19231924, when Nabokov was completely unknown. The five-act play--the story of an incognito king whose love for the wife of a banished revolutionary brings on the chaos the king has fought to prevent--was never published in Nabokovs lifetime and lay in manuscript until it appeared in a Russian literary journal in 1997. It is an astonishingly precocious work, in exquisite verse, touching for the first time on what would become this great writers major themes: intense sexual desire and jealousy, the elusiveness of happiness, the power of the imagination, and the eternal battle between truth and fantasy. The play is Nabokovs major response to the Russian Revolution, which he had lived through, but it approaches the events of 1917 above all through the prism of Shakespearean tragedy.
'The illegible signature of teetering disaster' Three great stories-- The Aurelian , Signs and Symbols and Lance-- the last both a derisive attack on science-fiction and an attempt to imagine the real pain and horror that would accompany space travel. Penguin Modern: fifty new books celebrating the pioneering spirit of the iconic Penguin Modern Classics series, with each one offering a concentrated hit of its contemporary, international flavour. Here are authors ranging from Kathy Acker to James Baldwin, Truman Capote to Stanislaw Lem and George Orwell to Shirley Jackson; essays radical and inspiring; poems moving and disturbing; stories surreal and fabulous; taking us from the deep South to modern Japan, New York's underground scene to the farthest reaches of outer space.